Stories from Fitness Technology

The 6 best features on your smartwatch, according to people who use them every day

Kells McPhillips

Kells McPhillipsDecember 17, 2019

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A new Gallup poll reveals that one in five Americans currently use a fitness tracker. Of those who use a wearable, however, only 30 percent of deemed their devices “very effective.” For the majority not getting the fitness bang for their buck, we asked those who love their devices the most how to use fitness trackers effectively.

For trainers, everyday athletes, and professionals stretchers, here are the smartwatch features that change their fitness game.

How to use a fitness tracker, according to trainers and other wearable devotees

KIRSTY GODSO, Nike master trainer

Favorite feature: Whoop‘s “daily strain” metric

Kirsty Godso, who wears straps on her Whoop every single day, tells me a few features—including HRV and sleep tracking—have completely transformed her fitness game. However, one metric stands out about the rest: the Whoop’s “daily strain” metric, which measures the total cardiovascular load someone experiences over a specified period of time.

“I noticed that my strain was maxing out daily because my body was under so much stress from overuse—not necessarily from my own physical workouts, but rather my workload. I have been implementing new strategies using Whoop as my coach and have noticed my strain and recovery improve as I find a new rhythm for my body that isn’t so taxing yet. I am able to workout more, I’m feeling stronger, and performing and sleeping better,” says the trainer.

Ella Dove, Well+Good director of creative development

Favorite feature: step counting

“I moved to LA from NYC this past fall, and while I’ve got more nature at my fingertips than ever before, my average daily step count took a big hit with my new in-car commute. I was lucky enough to get an Apple Watch in October, and while it might be wearables 101, having my activity rings right on my wrist—instead of hidden in my health app—re-motivated me to sneak in more steps by parking farther away, walking to run an errand instead of driving, and carving out time for a walk during the workday,” says Ella Dove.

Slotting your workouts in (the Blue Zones way) and tracking it has never been easier.

Rachel Lapidos, Well+GOod beauty and fitness editor

Favorite feature: recovery score

Well+Good’s fitness editor also turns to Whoop for recovery data. “With my tracker, I rely on my recovery score the most. That’s the one that tends to surprise me and sometimes seems to know what’s going on in my body more than I realize. As I gauge how hard I’m going to work out on any given day, I always check my recovery score—because I know that if I go overboard with sprints when my score is low, for instance, I’m going to screw myself over in the long run,” says Rachel Lapidos.

Tatiana Lampa, Training with T

Favorite feature: stopwatch

“I think my smartwatch has been a huge part of my life since 2015—when apple released their watch. As a trainer, I use the stopwatch all day and the workout tracker,” says Tatiana Lampa. That way, she knows exactly how long to break between sets and when it’s time to launch into another round of burpees, squats, etc.

Ali Finney, Well+Good beauty and fitness director

Favorite feature: blood pressure stats

“Lately, I’ve gotten really interested in heart rate stats. Heart problems run in my family, so I’m always concerned with keeping an eye on blood pressure. It has remained relatively low compared to a lot of the blood pressure numbers in my family.”

Keren Day, co-founder of Racked Stretch

Favorite feature: heart rate monitor

“If your watch comes with a heart rate monitor you can also use it to benchmark how fast your body is able to normalize and recover,” says Keren Day, DC. “You want to get your heart rate down under 120 BPM within 60 seconds of a tough interval or push, and you can track improvements over time. This a good metric of how efficiently your body is working and can be an indicator of when to put more of a focus on recovery.”

Test out your smartwatch’s heart rate monitor with this quickie workout:

Here’s how to put together a recovery toolkit. Plus, how to pick what recovery tool is right for your particular type of soreness. 

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